L I F E = 90 % ALIEN + 10% Gravity

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You already saw this film in 1979. It was called ALIEN.

The film opens a super-long "oner" that establishes the space inside the ISS. This shot also introduces the characters, but most importantly gives the documentary feel of "really being there". This takes the brief tour of the Nostromo up to Gravity-level commitment to holding the shot. We spend about six and a half minutes on one shot.

The film is like Gravity in that it commits to the zero-G aesthetic of not only floating astronauts, but a floating camera that follows them around.

The set-up is less of a conceit than ALIEN. No faster-than-light space-truckers. Just scientists in the ISS. No boogeyman spaceship. Just a soil sample from Mars. But it is totally ALIEN.

Ryan Reynolds basically plays the smart alec persona he's been cultivating over his career. Not quite Deadpool in Space, but in the same space that he and Chris Pratt live for.

Kaneda's (i.e., Hiroyuki Sanada) in the film, because why not? Jake Gyllenhaal is also there and there are a few vaguely familiar-looking actresses and Ariyon Bakare from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (looking a bit like a bespeckled Idris Elba, especially with that goatee).

If you haven't seen ALIEN, go see life (also, you're dead to me if you haven't seen ALIEN). If you have seen ALIEN, you might want to wait until it comes out on video or streaming. But if you would like to hear the most dramatic reading of Goodnight Moon that you are likely to hear this year, or if you're just in the mood for some comfort food, LIFE may have what you're looking for.
Apr 1, 2017 4:24 PM
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The YETI
If you haven't seen ALIEN, go see life (also, you're dead to me if you haven't seen ALIEN).

Or better yet, go watch PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, and then watch ALIEN after
Apr 1, 2017 4:39 PM
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When I first saw the trailer for Life I thought it was for Alien: Covenant. And I keep mistaking the title Life for a nature documentary.

I'm just really confused all the time now.
Apr 1, 2017 4:54 PM
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Special Agent Cooper
The YETI
If you haven't seen ALIEN, go see life (also, you're dead to me if you haven't seen ALIEN).

Or better yet, go watch PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, and then watch ALIEN after

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_of_the_Vampires

"[B]oth Alien's director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon claimed at the time that they had never seen Planet of the Vampires."

Carducci, Mark Patrick and Lovell, Glenn. Cinefantastique Magazine, Volume 9, Number 1, 1979, pgs. 10 - 39. "Making Alien: Behind The Scenes"

I have not yet seen Planet of the Vampires.

Apr 1, 2017 4:58 PM
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The YETI
Special Agent Cooper
The YETI
If you haven't seen ALIEN, go see life (also, you're dead to me if you haven't seen ALIEN).

Or better yet, go watch PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, and then watch ALIEN after

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_of_the_Vampires

"[B]oth Alien's director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon claimed at the time that they had never seen Planet of the Vampires."

Carducci, Mark Patrick and Lovell, Glenn. Cinefantastique Magazine, Volume 9, Number 1, 1979, pgs. 10 - 39. "Making Alien: Behind The Scenes"

I have not yet seen Planet of the Vampires.


I'm aware of their claim. Either way there are enough similarities to make a good double feature, both are excellent. You can't go wrong with Bava


Apr 1, 2017 6:13 PM
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Special Agent Cooper
The YETI
Special Agent Cooper
The YETI
If you haven't seen ALIEN, go see life (also, you're dead to me if you haven't seen ALIEN).

Or better yet, go watch PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, and then watch ALIEN after

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_of_the_Vampires

"[B]oth Alien's director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Dan O'Bannon claimed at the time that they had never seen Planet of the Vampires."

Carducci, Mark Patrick and Lovell, Glenn. Cinefantastique Magazine, Volume 9, Number 1, 1979, pgs. 10 - 39. "Making Alien: Behind The Scenes"

I have not yet seen Planet of the Vampires.


I'm aware of their claim. Either way there are enough similarities to make a good double feature, both are excellent. You can't go wrong with Bava



OK, I'll give it a watch.

We should also note that even if they claim to have never seen it, that they might be sincere, but still wrong. Cryptomnesia is far more common (I think) than most people suspect.

On the other hand, we should also be wary of claims of genetic influences. Correlation does not equal causation. Strange thing to say, when I am arguing that LIFE is a direct genetic descendant of ALIEN. That stated, I don't think anyone who has seen both would disagree with me- it's very obvious. But if the test I propose is just seeing it I might watch Planet of the Vampires and add it to the list of films Scott was borrowing from.


Apr 1, 2017 6:24 PM
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It was surprisingly "not bad". It kind of reminds me of when Stir of Echoes was released after the hugely successful classic that was The Sixth Sense (or The Thing to E.T.). It is rather derivative in the wake of something more extremely popular, but it is skillfully acted and directed. The opening sequence was pretty damn impressive all things considered, and it managed to keep the suspense fresh during the cliche riddled second half. It pulls off what very few sci-fi horror films in space are able to sustain. It keeps it engaging all the way through without going completely silly.

What I enjoyed most about it was the design of the alien. Neil mentioned that alien lifeforms in films often represent creatures that have recognizable human/earth like features. That is not the case here. It is the most original and interesting aspect of a film that focuses heavily on such a concept.
Apr 1, 2017 11:21 PM
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Special Agent Cooper




OK, I watched. Visually, it's very interesting. It's like seeing the cover of an old sci-fi book come to life.

I think the most interesting similarity was the discovery of the other wrecked spaceships with the giants. It's not really beat-for-beat ALIEN in the way LIFE is, but that's a very interesting coincidental feature.
Apr 2, 2017 2:09 AM
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I am not going to pay to see this, but as soon as it leaves the theaters I am game.
Apr 2, 2017 2:41 AM
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The YETI
OK, I watched. Visually, it's very interesting. It's like seeing the cover of an old sci-fi book come to life.

I think the most interesting similarity was the discovery of the other wrecked spaceships with the giants. It's not really beat-for-beat ALIEN in the way LIFE is, but that's a very interesting coincidental feature.

Mario Bava is nothing if not a master of visuals. He worked as a cinematographer for many years before becoming a director, and it shows. It's best not to watch his films expecting great storytelling, but damn does he make every frame a painting. One thing I really love about Planet of the Vampires is how they use what little money they have, Italian genre producers of that time were skilled at stretching every dollar and making movies look more expensive than they were.

If his style intrigues you at all I highly recommend checking out his other movies like The Whip and the Body and Black Sabbath.
Apr 2, 2017 3:28 AM
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Special Agent Cooper
The YETI
OK, I watched. Visually, it's very interesting. It's like seeing the cover of an old sci-fi book come to life.

I think the most interesting similarity was the discovery of the other wrecked spaceships with the giants. It's not really beat-for-beat ALIEN in the way LIFE is, but that's a very interesting coincidental feature.

Mario Bava is nothing if not a master of visuals. He worked as a cinematographer for many years before becoming a director, and it shows. It's best not to watch his films expecting great storytelling, but damn does he make every frame a painting. One thing I really love about Planet of the Vampires is how they use what little money they have, Italian genre producers of that time were skilled at stretching every dollar and making movies look more expensive than they were.

If his style intrigues you at all I highly recommend checking out his other movies like The Whip and the Body and Black Sabbath.

Thanks. I never heard of this guy before.
Apr 2, 2017 3:41 AM
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MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
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The YETI
Special Agent Cooper
The YETI
OK, I watched. Visually, it's very interesting. It's like seeing the cover of an old sci-fi book come to life.

I think the most interesting similarity was the discovery of the other wrecked spaceships with the giants. It's not really beat-for-beat ALIEN in the way LIFE is, but that's a very interesting coincidental feature.

Mario Bava is nothing if not a master of visuals. He worked as a cinematographer for many years before becoming a director, and it shows. It's best not to watch his films expecting great storytelling, but damn does he make every frame a painting. One thing I really love about Planet of the Vampires is how they use what little money they have, Italian genre producers of that time were skilled at stretching every dollar and making movies look more expensive than they were.

If his style intrigues you at all I highly recommend checking out his other movies like The Whip and the Body and Black Sabbath.

Thanks. I never heard of this guy before.

Mario Bava is incredible and more or less made the Italian Horror genre, including Giallo, what it would become, directly influencing Argento and Fulci. I think his masterpiece is Blood and Black Lace but I've yet to see a film of his that isn't worth watching. His formal language on such a low budget is unparalleled.
Apr 2, 2017 4:28 AM
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This movie is nothing like Alien, people keep saying that but never back it up with any examples. ?I was never an Alien fan, but I love Life.
Apr 4, 2017 9:45 AM
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Andrew LefloreThis movie is nothing like Alien, people keep saying that but never back it up with any examples. ?I was never an Alien fan, but I love Life.

I fucking love Life. It's like two generations of comedy genius.
Apr 4, 2017 12:42 PM
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Andrew LefloreThis movie is nothing like Alien, people keep saying that but never back it up with any examples. ?I was never an Alien fan, but I love Life.

Hello Mr. One Post.

Let's check off some boxes, none of which makes it essentially like ALIEN, but the sum total of which offer an undeniable connection.

Surprise alien discovery starts off exhilarating and turns terrifying.

Communal meal scene at the big spaceship dining table with multiple conversations.

Human mouth raped by an alien creature.

Alien prodded with electricity in attempt to stimulate it without harming it.

Fire used as a weapon.?

Doors used to try contain creature on the ship.

Alien uses air duct to escape attempts to contain it.

With destruction of main ship imminent, characters attempt to escape on life raft.

Alien grows larger as the film goes on.

Human fights alien in the life raft.

Video game graphic representation where living creatures are within the space of the ship.

Escape attempt does not work out as planned and alien gets into a lifeboat.

Overly curious human gets to close to alien. Alien attached to human and human cannot detach the alien. Fellow shipmates can only look on in horror.

Plucky "Earthy" character say science be damned and asks for permission to kill the creature.

Humans lose track of where alien is on the ship.

Main ship is damaged/destroyed to save humanity.

10 Little Indians plot where ensemble of characters is killed off one by one.

One character starts to appreciate the alien in a way that suggest "going native" or diverging allegiance to human.?

And that's just off the top of my head.

Apr 4, 2017 7:15 PM
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I'd say most of those things are generic and found in pretty much every movie of the "trapped with a monster" genre, especially ones that take place in a base/ship. Seal the doors, but of course it doesn't work. One guy at least wants to save it, while another is "kill it" right from the start. Most of the cast dies, getting picked off mostly one by one. Early on, there's chatting and such to establish characters before the situation goes to hell. And ultimately, there's a desperate plan to escape/kill the monster, which doesn't quite work as planned and results in a final showdown at the escape point. Also, for those that take place in a ship/base, said ship/base will be blown up. Furthermore, when there is tech, of course tech is used to track it. And of course the tech isn't perfect, as that would remove the suspense. When it comes to stopping a monster, attempting to set it on fire, again, very common. Heck, I could apply almost the entire list to Aliens (communal meal becomes getting prepped after leaving cryo, while "want as product" replaces "going native"), and while that does feature the aliens, it has a completely different feel to Alien.

Mind you, not saying the order of events and overall feel of Life isn't like Alien. Haven't seen it. But plot-point-wise, the list just strikes me as a "paint-by-numbers" guide to the survival horror genre.
Apr 6, 2017 2:59 AM
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AxterixI'd say most of those things are generic and found in pretty much every movie of the "trapped with a monster" genre, especially ones that take place in a base/ship. Seal the doors, but of course it doesn't work. One guy at least wants to save it, while another is "kill it" right from the start. Most of the cast dies, getting picked off mostly one by one. Early on, there's chatting and such to establish characters before the situation goes to hell. And ultimately, there's a desperate plan to escape/kill the monster, which doesn't quite work as planned and results in a final showdown at the escape point. Also, for those that take place in a ship/base, said ship/base will be blown up. Furthermore, when there is tech, of course tech is used to track it. And of course the tech isn't perfect, as that would remove the suspense. When it comes to stopping a monster, attempting to set it on fire, again, very common. Heck, I could apply almost the entire list to Aliens (communal meal becomes getting prepped after leaving cryo, while "want as product" replaces "going native"), and while that does feature the aliens, it has a completely different feel to Alien.

Mind you, not saying the order of events and overall feel of Life isn't like Alien. Haven't seen it. But plot-point-wise, the list just strikes me as a "paint-by-numbers" guide to the survival horror genre.

Discerning genetic influences solely from textual analysis is a notoriously dubious affair. Are you looking at a resemblance, an influence, an homage, a generic feature (shared 3rd variable in the background)? It's hard to say.

I don't think any one of the points I listed is definitive, but cumulatively, they build to a whole. If I had the time, we could go shot-for-shot/detail-for-detail. I just listed the really obvious stuff off of the top of my head.

Trust me. If you're familiar with ALIEN, just watch LIFE. I think that's all the proof you'll need. It's not just themes, but plot devices, plot points, characters, and beats.

Apr 6, 2017 3:15 AM
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I'll repost my review here:

Life....well, I read the reviews, but I tried to hold out hope. Sure, it's an Alien rip-off, and despite its more philosophical pretensions (like its broad and haughty but unimaginative title, the film at times tries to also ape Gravity's profundity, and earns none of it), the film is alright as a more modest monster film. The script needed more than a couple of polishes, and the acting was pretty weak, especially Gyllenhaal who either didn't seem to care or to understand what film he was actually in. By contrast, Ryan Reynolds is pretty good, because he seemed to know exactly what kind of film he was in. And although the creature's design has been getting a lot of ridicule for looking like a demonic space vagina, I suppose I should remind everyone what demonic space organ the Xenomorph looked like.

Daniel Espinosa deserves the credit, as he shows real capability with atmosphere and tension and some visually striking shots. The problem is almost wholly in the script, which is hand-me-down on an almost flea market scale. Without spoilers, I'll just say that the ending sucked any and all good will it had going for it (I will point out that it almost seems as if the film's aping of Gravity was some kind of sick set-up to a horribly lame joke), and, like salt in our sore eyes, the end credit music of "Spirit in the Sky" is probably responsible for about 60% of the hostility that exiting critics needed to vent. 7/10 + 2/10 ending
Apr 21, 2017 5:04 AM
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